Inspirational Women in the Entertainment Industry: Lisa Ling
If you’ve been following IBG’s blog, you may have noticed that we recently profiled ten inspirational individuals in the world of philanthropy, many of whom also have a deep background in the arts. This has kick-started a brand new sub-column for us, turning the lens a little bit more focused on IBG’s mission. We are an all-female run organization right now, with our own roots and day jobs in the arts. To various degrees, we started IBG in order to be able to use our stature in the entertainment industry to give back, and now we are celebrating other amazing women who are doing the same.
Lisa Ling started in the media extremely young; at only sixteen years of age she was already covering news stories on-air and getting her feet wet in all kinds of serious, hard news stories. Having a dream is great, but actively going after it is a whole other story.
Ling’s determination took her from the “small” program of Channel One News to the nationally syndicated daytime talk show The View, where she was hired to be the “young voice” again and sit at a table to talk politics and other tough topics with seasoned journalist veterans like Meredith Viera and Barbara Walters. It could be a daunting task, but Ling took it all in stride and made herself a household name by managing to keep calm under pressure. Well, sure; she had already visited actual combat zones, so those women couldn’t be too intimidating …
But Ling has a few other traits that are necessary for success, too, such as the ability to recognize complacency and the courage to squash it. When she found herself spend a few years in her mid-twenties stuck in that studio for The View, she realized there were stories she was missing and that her true skills could be getting rusty. So she gave up a comfortable, cushy gig to go back into the trenches for National Geographic, and later, the Oprah Winfrey Show. And Ling definitely feels it paid off because now she truly gets to do the show she always wanted to, again for Winfrey and her OWN Network, Our America.
“I always go into every story with a preconceived notion of what the people are going to be like; I think we all do,” Ling admitted, of the shortcomings of journalists. “But inevitably, as soon as we hit the ground and start interacting…I realize there’s so much complexity to every story.”
And Ling noted that any journalist worth his or her salt owes it to themselves, their subjects, and their audience to actually dig deeper– past their preconceptions, past their own personal biases, past the “easy” story on the surface.
I grew up getting made fun of a lot for being Chinese,” Ling shared. “I grew up in a very non-diverse community, and I was always teased. I was a fairly popular kid– I had a lot of friends– but I was different, and everyone liked to remind me of that. And so…judgment has always been a challenge for me, overcoming judgment. But I feel like this show is allowing me to finally do just that.”
Ling’s “dream come true” show now is not only teaching her to let go of assumptions or to look at other people and foreign situations with a more open mind, but she is also looking inward a little differently, too. And really, it is the willingness to that work on one’s self, even while at the top of one’s game, that defines such an inspiration.
– Danielle Turchiano is the CEO and Publicity Coordinator for IBG Inc. but is also a freelance entertainment writer in Los Angeles.